- Measurables: 6-foot-7, 232 pounds, freshman F from Kentucky
- Key Stats: 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 26 percent from three
- Projected: Top 5
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I’m intrigued by this guy
The easy answer is that if the Pistons are in a position to draft Kidd-Gilchrist, it means they’ve moved into the top three of the draft lottery, certainly reason for any fan of the team to be excited.
But Kidd-Gilchrist is also a throwback Piston who would quickly become a fan-favorite, not only because he’s a fantastic athlete, but because he’s a lockdown, physical defensive player. As we all know, the Pistons have an abundance of finesse players right now. Getting a young player with MKG’s toughness would be a huge, huge win.
Pros for the Pistons
As I mentioned above, defense is the immediate selling point. Kidd-Gilchrist is a big, strong perimeter player who can guard three positions. The Pistons currently only have two players (if Ben Wallace retires) — Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince — who can even be called average defensively.
And speaking of Prince, Kidd-Gilchrist would immediately give the Pistons more flexibility when it comes to what to do with Prince. Unlike some wing prospects in the draft, Kidd-Gilchrist is ready for a starting or at least primary role immediately. This would make it easier to reduce Prince’s minutes (which, in my opinion, would make him more effective) or trade him if there are teams out there looking for veteran help at small forward and who are unafraid to take on three pricey years on his contract even though he’s on the wrong side of 30.
Kidd-Gilchrist is an exceptional athlete, a good finisher and he’d be a great fit finishing off breaks led by either Stuckey or Brandon Knight. He’s also a great rebounder for his position and, despite poor perimeter shooting, still shot nearly 50 percent as a perimeter player. He’d be a huge, immediate upgrade for the Pistons at the small forward spot.
Cons for the Pistons
The main knock on MKG to this point is shooting. He’s not a major threat from long range. In a lineup with Stuckey who, although improved, is also not what anyone would mistake for a 3-point threat and Knight, who shot better than expected from three as a rookie but also may not necessarily be anyone’s idea of a 3-point specialist, the Pistons could potentially put a pretty poor shooting perimeter on the court for big minutes, which would take driving lanes away from all three.
That’s really the only negative anyone has to say about MKG, and it’s certainly not anything that would scare the Pistons or any team off from likely drafting him in the first four picks.
What others are saying
Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t have Davis’ size or athletic ability (though he’s a great athlete in his own right), but he brings all the intangibles of a winner. He has the highest motor of any player in the draft, can lock down players at three different positions, is one of the most efficient finishers in college basketball and is a leader on and off the court.
Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t quite the sure thing that Davis is, however. He’s a little undersized for his position and needs to get a more consistent jump shot. Some teams wonder if he’ll be an aggressive enough scorer at the next level. But for the most part, the NBA talent evaluators are sold. We have Kidd-Gilchrist ranked No. 2 on our Big Board and have him going No. 2 overall to the Washington Wizards in our Lottery Mock Draft. If Washington decides to take Bradley Beal instead of Kidd-Gilchrist, we doubt MKG slides out of the top five.
He really understands the nuances of making others better with his ability to set screens, pass, and make hustle plays, which is likely a big reason why he’s always been considered such a winner from very early on in his career.
Kidd-Gilchrist changed his name on July 7, 2011. His uncle, Darrin Kidd, died on the day Kidd-Gilchrist was scheduled to sign his letter of intent to play at Kentucky.
Gilchrist has talked with a stutter for most of his life. He isn’t comfortable in the large group settings that are the norm in his sport, where strangers leaning close and interrupt each other with questions.
Kanaley taught him for four years at St. Patrick, working with him one-on-one in the resource room at the school. She remembers him as “a very, very sensitive young man” who didn’t like reading assignments that dealt with death; he calls her “one of my favorite teachers.”
So Kanaley understands the strain that his stuttering has put on Kidd-Gilchrist better than most. Put him in a social situation with his friends or teammates, and Gilchrist is at ease and speaks freely.
But when you’re a star for the No. 1 team in the country who’s about to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft, everyone knows you. There are obligations beyond the court and the classroom.
“He doesn’t like all the hoopla around him,” Kanaley said. “I know the stuttering was very difficult for him – very difficult.”
What is the best thing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist does for his team?
There is plenty to love about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as a prospect, but his best attributes as a player are the things that you can’t teach. He’s naturally strong. He’s more physical that his frame would indicate. He’s a terrific defender, often times getting switched onto an opponent’s point guard in his one season in Lexington. He’s a terror on the glass. Kidd-Gilchrist has a way to go in terms of developing his ball skills — he needs to be a better ball-handler and he has to improve his ability to shoot — but that will come with time. It’s just my opinion, however, but I’d rather have a player the inherent tenacity and toughness that needs to be taught a 15 foot pull-up than vice versa.
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